First Cincinnati Aviation Meeting in 1909
Posted On: 03/10/2017 - 2:00pm, Posted By: Scott Gampfer, Director of History Collections and Library
Our Pamphlet Collection contains an interesting program from what was billed as the “First Cincinnati Aviation Meeting” held at Latonia Race Track on November 12-14, 1909. The event attracted some of the big names in aviation at that time, including Glenn Curtiss, Charles Willard, Roy Knabenshue, and Lincoln Beachey.
Sponsored by the Aero Club of Cincinnati, the event featured airplanes, airships, and balloons in races and flight demonstrations. The Cincinnati Enquirer stated that “For years people in Cincinnati and vicinity have been reading about airships, aeroplanes and the daring men who take chances in guiding the sky motors, but today for the first time they will have an opportunity to see the machines in action
The crowds enjoyed the daily races and other events. Apparently at least one newspaper reporter was impressed with what he saw and guilty of a bit of hyperbole when he wrote that Curtiss and Willard “flew like swallows and landed as lightly as a butterfly lights on a rose.”
Although Glenn Curtiss was quite famous at the time, the newspaper noted that after the Friday events, “he climbed on the back of a street car and went to his hotel without a sign of recognition from any one. Such is fame.” He must have been a cool customer too because they also noted that “He never smiles or becomes enthusiastic.”
The event was not without some unintended excitement. Glenn Curtiss’ machine struck a horse on takeoff on the first day of the event and two men received minor injuries on the second day when a tank that was being used to fill one of the balloons exploded. An additional fifteen men standing in the area of the explosion were thrown to the ground by the force of the blast, but not injured.
Overall, the Aviation Meet was a huge success and drew sizeable crowds, some of whom took positions on local rooftops to watch. Many notable visitors attended the three-day event. Orville Wright made an unexpected appearance in the crowd on Saturday and Congressman Nicholas Longworth, III and his wife Alice Roosevelt Longworth attended as well.